Here in the northern hemisphere, the snowboarding season is coming to an end—but that doesn’t mean you have to stop. Not this year, anyway. Get those boots back on and brew yourself some cocoa, because Carve Snowboarding launches on the Quest Platform today for $19.99 USD.
Carve Snowboarding is a built-for-VR take on the sport from Chuhai Labs and Giles Goddard, a programmer at Chuhai and the creator of the Nintendo 64 classic 1080° Snowboarding. Like its predecessor, Carve blends a pick-up-and-play arcade attitude with simulation-level snow physics and handling. It’s easy to get on the board and start bombing downhill, but getting your name on the leaderboards? You’ll have to put in some time on the slopes first.
We sat down with Goddard to talk about 1080’s influence on Carve Snowboarding, bringing the sport to VR, and some of his favorite real-world snowboarding spots.
First, tell me how VR snowboarding works. Am I standing sideways and squatting? Can I do tricks?
Giles Goddard: In Carve Snowboarding you stand (or sit) sideways with your front foot and arm facing down the slope and your arms by your sides. Regular-stance players will have their left side towards the nose of the board, and goofy-stance players their right side. While holding the Touch controllers by your sides you can then rotate your body to change the direction of the board, just like in real snowboarding. You can grab any point on the board with either hand by using the grip button and perform spins to do over 100 different tricks, or even make up your own!
What got you interested in VR, and what makes it a good fit for a snowboarding game?
GG: I’ve been fascinated by the potential of VR ever since getting the original DK1 and I think now that we have truly wireless, stand-alone VR with the Oculus Quest the possibilities are endless. I think snowboarding fits VR so well because it gives you the ability to constantly look around your environment to judge your route while still being in full control of the board.
How much of 1080° Snowboarding’s spirit is in Carve Snowboarding? What were the must-haves that you wanted to include for fans?
GG: We’ve tried to retain the feel of the different types of snow—such as soft powder, hard ice, and so on—and also the level of fine-tuning that 1080 had. It was very important that anyone could pick it up and play and yet still have enough range to feel like you were mastering it over time. We also made performing tricks a much more natural and intuitive experience that doesn’t require memorizing button sequences.
And we also had to include a cabin, of course!
There’s a dog in the cabin, right? Can you pet the dog?
GG: There is a dog and yes, please pet him because he loves it!
What were some of the challenges you encountered during development?
GG: It’s very hard to prevent players from becoming nauseous due to sudden camera movements in VR, so the challenge was to find a way of reducing that as much as possible while still allowing complete freedom to follow any route down the mountain. Thankfully most people tend to find Carve to be on the comfortable end of the scale. We also had to completely rethink the control scheme to make it feel as natural as possible using the Touch controllers.
How has snowboarding (and the culture around it) changed or evolved since the release of 1080 Snowboarding, if at all?
GG: I would say that here in Japan at least, snowboarders make up 80% of the people on the slopes. Back when 1080 was released snowboarding was rather niche. Now it’s very much a mainstream sport.
On a professional level, the sport now has a huge amount of talent doing insane tricks that weren’t even thought possible 20 years ago. You just need to look at some of the stuff people like Travis Rice get up to or events like the X Games to see how far snowboarding has come.
What’s your favorite real-world place to snowboard?
GG: I’m lucky enough to live in a country that is world renowned for amazing powder snow, which is a dream for snowboarders. For fun and variety I go up to Hakuba Valley in Nagano, where they held the 1998 Winter Olympics. For a chill couple of days we’ll head up to some little known slopes in Toyama. And then closer to Kyoto we have the excellent Okuibuki—home to Japan’s fastest quad lift!—where a lot of the locals head on the weekends.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
GG: Yes! There are so many cool things in the pipeline right now. We can’t announce any just yet but please keep an eye out for new Chuhai Labs games this year!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
GG: Many of us had to postpone trips to the slopes last season due to the pandemic and are eager to get back up there, so I hope Carve Snowboarding will help get them back in form for next season. And for those people who have never been snowboarding, please give it a try—you’ll be surprised how easy it is to pick up!
Whether your snowboarding season is almost over or just beginning, with Carve Snowboarding you can keep the fresh powder coming all year long. Grab it on the Quest Platform today for $19.99 USD.